A private membership area can help you build a community and generate recurring income.
Hundreds of thousands of businesses like eCommerce stores, gallery sites, affiliate sites, restaurants, news media, etc are benefiting from having a private membership area on their websites.
Building a members-only area on your WordPress website may seem like a daunting task but don’t worry. It’s not that hard. All you need to do is install a plugin and set it up properly.
In this article, we are listing down the top 3 WordPress membership area plugins for you to choose from. And we are demonstrating how to use them to create a membership area on your WordPress website.
Let’s get started…
Before we begin, let’s set up the context for readers who are not very familiar with membership sites and their many benefits.
What Are WordPress Members Area?
The WordPress members area is a private area on your WordPress website. It’s accessible only by authorized users like administrators and paid subscribers.
Take, for instance, Mark Manson’s website. Mark is a self-help guru and he is one of the first self-help authors to have adopted a membership model. Subscribers get access to articles, Q&As, and video courses.
Although Mark sells content (articles) and his services (Q&A videos), the membership model can also be adopted for selling products. For instance, Audible sells audio products. Audiobook lovers can listen to one audiobook or audio drama, or podcast every month if they subscribe to a specific plan.
So building a WordPress members area on your WordPress website is a great way to generate recurring income, You can nurture a private community and collect leads that you can use to further grow your business.
In the next section, we are briefly examining the major benefits of a WordPress membership are.
Benefits of WordPress Members Area
There are 3 major benefits of having a members area on your WordPress website. Those are:
- Drawing traffic and revenue
- Lead collection
- Community building
Let’s take a look at them one by one.
1. Drawing Traffic and Revenue
Drawing traffic and generating revenue is essential for any online business. A membership area on your website can help you do just that. Create exclusive content, service, products and promote or advertise them to draw targeted traffic. You can charge a yearly or monthly recurring fee for access to the exclusive content.
There are plenty of websites growing their businesses in this manner. Take, for instance, Fizzle. It’s a platform that equips entrepreneurial aspirants with tools to launch online businesses and drive them to success. It offers a monthly as well as an annual subscription plan.
3. Lead Collection
Subscribers to the member’s area are handing over their names and email addresses to you. Such valuable data can be used to grow your business further. You can use existing subscribers to launch sale campaigns and products.
Even if you don’t want to monetize the member’s area, you can still use it to collect leads. All you need to do is restrict parts of your website and anyone who wants to access it will have to create an account with their names and email addresses. For instance, Scott’s Cheap Flight sends international flight deals straight to your inbox if you sign up and create a free membership account.
3. Community Building
Subscribers to your membership area can also be used to build a community around your business. It could be a forum on your websites. Or it could be a Facebook or Slack group.
For example, Youpreneur, an online academy for entrepreneurs has a Facebook group. It enables the course creators to engage with the members of the academy even when the members are not spending time on the Youpreneur website. Youpreneur encourages people to join their group by placing a link on the site’s home page.
Any online business can benefit from a community. It’s a great way to keep users engaged and interested in a brand. Moreover, a community can drive your growth by spreading your good name through word of mouth.
These are the benefits of having a membership area on your website. Now let’s look at the best plugins that’ll help you create a WordPress members area.
Best WordPress Members Area Plugins
While there are dozens of members area plugins out there, we choose the following 3 because they are trusted by thousands of small businesses around the world.
The plugins are:
- WP-Members Membership Plugin
- WooCommerce Memberships
Let’s dive into what each plugin offers and how it can create a members area on your WordPress website.
Important: Before you try out any of the plugins we are recommending, we strongly suggest that you take a backup of your entire website. Anyone who has been operating WordPress websites for a while can tell you that there are risks involved in installing new plugins. They are known to break websites. If that happens, then a backup is your safety net. All you need to do is restore the backup and your website will be back to normal in a jiffy. So take a backup of your website right now.
ProfilePress is a complete WordPress membership solution. It offers prebuilt themes that you can customize according to your needs. You can use the drag and drop form builder to create user registration and login forms including custom WooCommerce registration forms. In fact, it helps you build a user dashboard where members can view their own user-profiles and upload their avatars. They can also find other members of the site through a searchable and filterable directory.
It is worth noting that the plugin’s clean code is great for extending its functionality. Developers can utilize a number of hooks and filters to extend the capabilities of ProfilePress. Those you who are not a developer, don’t worry. You can opt for premium addons like social logins, MailChimp and WooCommerce integrations, Polylang integrations, etc.
On top of all that, the plugin is super easy to set up and use. We will show you how to use ProfilePress to create a WordPress members area.
Install and activate ProfilePress. You will be immediately prompted to create the following pages: password reset, login, registration, and my account page.
Next, go to ProfilePress > Settings. Review and modify the default settings. For help, you can follow these help docs. Done? Now, it’s time to enable restricted content of your site so that only logged-in users can access it.
Go to ProfilePress > Content Protection > Add a Protection Rule. Next give a title, select the content you want to protect, and make sure only logged-in users can access it. If you need further assistance, check out this help doc.
You now have a members area on your WordPress website.
2. WP-Members Membership Plugin
WP-Members is one of the most popular WordPress membership plugins. One of the best things about the plugin is that it’s very simple to operate. No need to worry about the learning curve. Instead, focus on growing your business.
The plugin has a free and a premium version. With the free version, you can create pages for login, registrations, and profiles. You can also create post excerpts and restrict posts, pages, and custom post types. On top of all these, there are 100+ actions and filter hooks to extend the functionality of the plugin.
The premium features include hiding WordPress toolbar, spam blockers, user tracking, PayPal integrations, WooCommerce integrations, BuddyPress integrations, priority support among other things. Here’s a complete list of offerings.
Install and activate the plugin on your WordPress website and then go to Settings > WP-Members. This is where you set the login, registration pages, user profile pages and choose whether you want to block posts or pages. We recommend considering all the options carefully and then modifying them as per your needs. Follow these user guides if you need more help.
3. WooCommerce Memberships
WooCommerce Memberships is built for WooCommerce stores. Like ProfilePress, this plugin is also a complete membership site solution but it’s designed exclusively for WooCommerce stores.
With WooCommerce Memberships, you can sell access to your store as a standalone product or grant membership as a part of the product purchase or only invite a handful of people to become members.
You have the option to restrict the content of your store or drip the content availability over time. You can also create members-only products.
Furthermore, WooCommerce Memberships gives you tools to grow your membership site. You can enable free shipping for existing members, offer discounts on all products, some products, or particular product categories. You can import or export members, ensure that members are happy by showing store perks in their member’s area. Read more about the offerings of the plugin.
Now, let’s install and activate the WooCommerce Memberships on your WooCommerce store. Next, you need to modify the general settings as per your need. Here’s a detailed document to help you do just that.
After the general setting has been taken care of, create membership plans and start restricting content. Simply follow these help docs.
With that, we have listed down the top 3 WordPress member’s area plugins.
Building a member’s area can seem like a daunting task which is why we choose plugins that are easy to operate.
We recommend trying out the plugins on a staging site before installing them on the live site. Alternatively, take a backup of your website, and if things go wrong, simply restore your site back to normal.
That’s it for this one, folks. We hope you found this guide helpful. Until next time!